Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Fixing 'slump' issues priced at $1.6 million


An engineering firm is recommending nearly $1.6 million in drainage improvements to address surface water issues that caused a slump and ground movement on the Mount Ripinsky hillside last winter.

PND Engineers recently released a report recommending the installation of storm drains, culverts and drainage ditches to redirect water flow in the Oceanview Drive and Lutak Road areas. The January 2012 slump cracked Lutak Road, broke a sewer line, forced the relocation of utilities, undermined a home and raised questions about the future of a new subdivision.

“In general, it would appear parcel development upslope of Lutak Road has resulted in changes to the pre-developed surface water drainage patterns,” the report concluded.

After gathering data using optical remote sensing technology and performing field studies of the slump area, the company proposed the installation of six tight-line storm drainage systems to redirect peak water flow away from the unstable slope area.

The draft report initially provided to Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest included costs for the proposed improvements, but Earnest sent the report back asking for the project to be broken down into several smaller projects that could be phased in order of importance.

“If we have to spread this out over a few years for funding reasons, we can start with the most critical ones first and work our way down. And probably that’s going to be the realistic move,” Earnest said.

PND broke the improvements down into four phases. The first phase, intended to “provide critical surface water controls” along Oceanview Drive through the construction of two storm drain systems and culvert upgrades, is estimated to cost $560,000. With an optional cut-off drain, the phase one estimate climbs to $741,000.

The borough has requested $1.2 million from the Alaska Legislature for slump mitigation, but Earnest said he isn’t counting on that or other outside funding sources coming through.

“I’m not optimistic that there will be some other grant funding available. This doesn’t really fall into the criteria for some of these other funding programs… It may be that this falls on us,” he said.

Earnest said he also understands the Department of Transportation has no interest in helping pay for the project. “It’s not on state land. So they’re not jumping up to say, ‘Oh hey, we’re here,’” Earnest said.

At this point, Earnest said he is waiting to see whether the state will decide to fund any of the project, but is pursuing other funding opportunities in the meantime. PND Engineers will present the report at the Feb. 26 borough assembly meeting, when assembly members can give their input on how they think the borough should proceed.

“There’s going to be a lot of competing interests, but this is a very important project and we’ll try to do the best we can with what we have,” Earnest said.

Another report from PND recommending increased vegetation on the hillside to promote natural drainage systems is forthcoming.

The assembly appropriated $52,000 in early October for the slump report, but a final invoice has not yet been received, public facilities director Carlos Jimenez said.